Appropriation of Penguin Books’ design and its symbolical use within art.
The distinctive, horizontal blocks of colour and text within as a cover design of Penguin’s paperbacks, proved so iconic that its appropriation on a simple utilitarian ceramic mug became highly popular merchandise.
In Grayson’s Perry “The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal” (2012), a monumental piece of tapestry from his series, he is using these mugs as a social class symbol, and the movement through classes.
“On the table is a still life demonstrating the cultural bounty of his affluent lifestyle”. Together with the French press, car keys with Damien Hirst like skull keychain, local organic jam, fresh vegetables on the Guardian newspapers or the raw wood table they are all placed on, they are the symbols, the style-creators of aspirational middle classes.
They represent an aspiration for wealth of knowledge as well as monetary wealth, success and domestic nostalgia.
Douglas Coupland is another artist, and novelist appropriating the Penguin Books in his collages, and text based visual art, blurring the boundaries of art and literature.
This collage of “Jet Boy Jet Girl”, a song name stuck as vinyl stencils onto Penguin Book titles such as “Two Adolescents” by Alberto Moravia.
The punk song by Elton Motello about 15 years old boy’s lust and sexual relationship with an older man adds another complexity to the bluring of bounderies.
The ‘correct’ place for people within their social class or sexuality is challenged, and the nature and freedom of movement between them explored.
If I want it or not, appropriating the Penguin Books or the Penguin Donkey in my work will have significant impact on the context it carries.